Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Northwest Baltimore has been hit by crime before. But never had the small Catholic parish been blessed with a thief who had a conscience.
The Rev. Martin F. McGeough and his colleagues at the Roman Catholic church on Liberty Heights Avenue and Edgewood Road in Ashburton still can't believe it. Robbers held up two church volunteers recently, stealing about $1,400 in cash and checks. Since then, someone has returned all the money and a little bit more -- and asked for forgiveness.
On the evening of March 15, two church volunteers were taking the day's collection to a night deposit. Before they could deposit the money, however, three men robbed them of the money. One had a gun.
Since then, all the money plus $4 -- the church had a record of the precise amount that was stolen -- has been returned.
"This is probably one for 'Ripley's Believe It or Not,' " Father McGeough said yesterday. "We got some interest on our robbery."
One day after the robbery, a man came to the church and handed a housekeeper two envelopes containing about $900 in checks and cash.
On March 27, a note and some more cash were passed through a mail slot at the church, as Father McGeough was watching a movie.
The handwritten note read: "I am truly sorry for the taking the money. Please forgive me. I am repaying it. Sorry."
It's not the first time the small church, with a congregation of 150 families, has been robbed. Two years ago, Father McGeough said, it was broken into four times -- once on Christmas Eve.
But the outcome of the latest robbery was a first. "Someone had a conscience," Father McGeough said.